Asking Alexandria started 2013 with a bang. Playing a sold out tour up and down the UK. They also have a new album due out soon. Rocksins had a chance to chat with Guitarist Ben Bruce about touring, being a rockstar and why he loves old school music.
You’ve brought While She Sleeps on tour, but being in America as much as you are, do you get to keep up with the music scene in the UK?
Honestly, not as much as we’d like to, and not just the UK, even stuff in the States we don’t get to keep up as much as we’d like to because we’re so busy all the time. It’s hard to know what the new up and coming bands are because we’re concentrating so hard on coming up ourselves. So, unfortunately not, but the Sleeps guys are obviously doing really well at the moment, which is great because we took them out about 2 years ago now, and to see how much they’ve grown in this time is fucking awesome.
You guys seem to constantly be on tour, does it ever get too much?
It does, especially last year. 2012, for us, was really difficult. It was a great year, we toured a lot and got more successful, but it did take a toll on us as people and as musicians. By the end of the year we were just sick of everything. There was a bit of hostility within the band. It got a bit shit towards the end of the year. But it takes maybe two weeks of from touring and you realise why the fuck you’re doing this in the first place. We all had Christmas off, and after a week or two we were itching to get back out onto the road. We had missed each other and when we got back together after the New Year it was like “fuck yeah, this feels like home”. It was like any situation, if you’re living with your family, you’re going to have arguments, there’s going to be ups and downs, and this is a very similar situation.
Did that affect the writing of the new album?
I would say so, definitely. There are a lot of songs about the struggles of touring on the new record, Danny particularly struggles with it. There are a lot of really angry and aggressive songs on it as well because we were so pissed off at the end of the year and that’s what was coming out of us. It has made for a good album tough, in my opinion.
When can we expect to hear more new material?
Hopefully, within the next few weeks. We wanted to release a track before this UK tour, but it wasn’t mixed in time, so we’re looking at maybe releasing another song soon.
The album doesn’t have a title yet?
We haven’t picked one; we still haven’t picked it yet. We’re going to wait until the whole album is finished and see which lyric in the album speaks to us the most.
The last album focused a lot on rock and roll excess, is that something you’ve moved away from?
It’s not something we’ve moved away from as people, but lyrically, yes we’ve moved away from it. Like I said, we were so pissed off so there are a lot of very angry songs on there. The album is just more mature, we’re not singing about how great drugs are, and drinking and stuff, we’re actually taking life experiences and putting them down into words ion the new album.
What do you hope to achieve with the album?
We want to expand our fan base, our fans, for whatever reason, and I know every band says this, but I truly believe our fans are the most dedicated I’ve seen in a very long time. And we just want to show the world that heavy music, can go into arenas and it can make radio. When we told people we were going for radio on this album, they got worried that we were going to ‘sell out’ or go mainstream, we’re not. We’re going to take heavy music and the passion of this band and its fans have to a much larger audience and have more eyes turned towards us.
Do you often get people queuing early for gigs?
I heard that there have been kids out there since 4AM. We were still in Ireland at 4AM, Jesus Christ. That’s insane. The other thing that bets me all the time is, there’s so many kids that will come up to us and thank us for saving their lives, saying they were literally on the brink of suicide, saying “you saved my life, you’ve taught me not to give a fuck what other people think about my life and be true to who I am” that, to me, is the most amazing feeling in the world. I’m extremely thankful for everyone who is a fan of this band.
In the past you’ve made headlines for wrong reasons, is that something you try to avoid now?
You mean getting fucked up, trying to play a show and falling on our faces? Yes, that’s something we try to avoid. Personally, I don’t even drink a drop of alcohol before I go on stage, neither does Danny. The other guys might have a beer or two. It just got to a point where it was selfish. It was really selfish of us, we were having a good time and getting drunk and going on stage and fucking up, it was all fun and games back then. But we started to realise that we were letting our fans down, this isn’t why we got into this in the first place. To see disappointed people out there that have paid money, they’ve queued up, they’ve bought the record and they’re out there trying to watch one of their favourite bands, and for us to go onstage and act like a bunch of drunken fucking dickheads… it’s not on. It’s definitely something we’ve veered away from.
Nowadays you don’t get many ‘rockstars’, is that the attitude you wanted to have?
It’s just the people we are, we’re like an 80s band, but now. It’s the way we are and the way we always will be, we still fucking drink far too much and we still do fucking stupid things, but as we’ve got older and we’ve been doing this longer, we’ve learned the balance between work and play. Before, the line was blurry and we fucked up a lot.
You guys have covered a lot of bands from the 80s, are you trying to bring that style of music to a new audience?
To us, that was the best era in the world, 60s to 80s, and especially 80s is our favourite era, and it’s a shame that bands from then have been forgotten. I mean, Aerosmith just put out a new album and I think it only sold like 42,000 copies first week. And that’s AEROSMITH? It’s upsetting. It’s just a shame because these were the bands that influenced us, and got us to where we are. And we wanted to introduce that aspect of who we are to our fans. Today, a girl came up to me, she must’ve been about 16, and she said “I love Skid Row and Guns and Roses because of you guys” and that’s a fucking great thing